Reparations are one policy solution that can advance racial equity and justice in the United States and can decrease racial inequities in health and well-being (Bassett & Galea, 2020; Darity & Mullen, 2020). Yet reparations cannot be truly effective and reparative if they are not deeply accountable to the people who were harmed (Correa et al., 2009; Makhalemele, 2009; Suchkova, 2011). Building on the authentic grassroots organizing and meaningful community engagement of the Racial Justice Coalition in Asheville, North Carolina, the research team will utilize qualitative methods to study the local reparations process underway in Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina, asking:
What are Black residents' perceptions of and desires for how the reparations policy is implemented, both in terms of the local government's process of community engagement as well as the recommendations that will come from the Community Reparations Commission?
How is the local reparations process measuring up to its stated goals and desired outcomes, and what data are needed to measure progress on decreasing racial inequities in health and wellbeing?
With national attention on Asheville, North Carolina as the first US municipality to pass reparations in the South, the region offers a valuable case study to understand this bold remedy designed to reduce structural racism and inequities. This study will fill the gap in evidence regarding the process of change and the perceived and real impact of a reparations commission on systems, structures, and the lives of African Americans. Because this community-partnered work will be real-time rather than retrospective, this research has the potential to advance community driven solutions that come from the people most directly impacted by structural racism.